Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for : Zorro!!

Zorro was a Walt Disney Company production that ran on the ABC network from 1957 to 1959. It starred Guy Williams, who I was mainly familiar with from Lost In Space, as Don Diego Vega and his alter ego, the Robin Hood of the Old West....Zorro!

The show was well received and got good ratings, but only lasted two seasons due to financial disputes between Disney and ABC over the rights of the show. It's sort of ironic that Disney "won", in the end, having bought ABC.

A top Disney executive was overheard telling some of the ABC people...

"Yeah, we'll show you....we'll now run Zorro all the time!! Muahahaha!!!"

O.k...maybe not.....anyway.....

To be honest, I've only seen this one a handful of times but I do remember catching episodes while watching the old Mickey Mouse Club. Being a big Zorro fan, it was always one of the highlights for me as well as seeing the dad from Lost In Space in the lead.

With that, I'm closing the book on this years A to Z Blogging Challenge. Honestly, I never thought I'd make it through the whole thing. My schedule has been pretty up in the air but, as was my intention, this made me put my butt in the seat and write everyday. I did some basic prep work, but the posts were usually written the night before or the day of whichever letter we were on.

A big thank you to Arlee Bird of Tossing it Out and Alex J. Cavanaugh for spearheading this zany, month long ride through the blogosphere. I'd also like to thank all of you who came by, some almost every day, and left comments....I really appreciate them and you!  I apologize for not getting around as much as I wanted to, but life happens and we do what we can.

I hope you all had a good time with the challenge....I know that I did.

I'll be back on Friday or Saturday with a bit of an A to Z "wrap up" and my A to Z Challenge Survival Guide.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for : You Bet Your Life!!

No, this one isn't about any sort of fatal, Hunger Games type game show. This was an olllllld game show, back when they called them "quiz" shows, hosted by "The one....the only....Groucho!", as in legendary comedy genius, Julius Henry (Groucho) Marx.

The show began, with host Groucho and his assistant/announcer/straight man George Fenneman, as a radio program on the ABC network in 1947, transitioning to t.v. in 1950 on NBC.

The format was pretty simple. Groucho would host two strangers who were teamed and had to work together in order to answer questions correctly. As long as they answered correctly, they went on and collected money. A wrong answer, though, would send them packing. There was, also, a chance to win $100.00 if one of the contestants mentioned the "secret word" (or woid as Groucho would say) during their conversation with Groucho. Always chosen and revealed before the contestants came out, if one of them said it, a stuffed duck with a Groucho mustache and glasses would drop down on a string, carrying a $100.00 bill in its.....bill.

It's seriously doubtful that anyone watched the show for the actual game. Most watched it for Groucho's ad lib conversation with the contestants as well as his zingers directed at announcer George Fenneman. To this day, I've yet to see anyone in comedy.....scratch that, anyone at all....with a quicker wit than Groucho Marx. Of course, Groucho didn't have to worry such inane things as "political correctness" and just let the quips fly.

I first caught You Bet Your Life in the mid 70s when it was in syndication and always, always, got a laugh out of it. In fact, it was one of my first exposures to Groucho Marx and, later by their movies, The Marx Brothers.

In the annals of game show history, I'd say you still be pretty hard pressed to find a show that was better timed, executed, and gave as many laughs as You Bet Your Life.

Say the secret woid and tune in tomorrow for the big wrap up and some discussion about the "Robin Hood of the Old West".....

Honorable Mentions: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, The Young Riders, You Can't Do That On Television

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for: The X-Files!!

This show has always amazed me for the fact that, when I first tried to watch it I couldn't stand it.

In fact, I hated it.

Truth was, I just didn't get it. I didn't get that there was an underlying plot that lurked beneath each episode and that a few of the characters were the ones pulling the strings.

The X-Files ran on the Fox Network from 1993 until 2002 and was a Sunday night mainstay for a lot of people. Heavily inspired by such greats as Kolchak: The Night Stalker as well as The Twilight Zone, The X-Files put a whole new spin on the sci-fi/horror/conspiracy genre.

Starring David Duchovny as the conspiratorial Fox "Spooky" Mulder and Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully, the two came across things that would make Carl Kolchak crawl under the bed in fear. The last two seasons saw Duchovny leave (for the most part) and was replaced by Robert Patrick's John Doggett, who partnered with Annabeth Gish's Monica Reyes. Scully stuck around, but seemed to take on a more Mulder-esque role of cynical conspiracy nut.

I remember the first season being a, sort of, "monster of the week" type thing, so I pretty much wrote it off as something that wouldn't last, so I wasn't going to get invested in it. By the third season, though, I started watching it again and things had gotten much more intense as well as involved.

Short version of the story....I got hooked.

My favorite episode was "The Unusual Suspects" and featured my favorite supporting players, The Lone Gunmen. I was excited when they announced a spin-off series featuring the three conspiracy nuts....that is, until I watched the first few episodes. Fox totally screwed the pooch...again......and on a Fireflyian scale. It was terrible and it was a relief that it only went on for thirteen episodes.

I could name episode after episode that I'll still go back and rewatch...just because. It was "that kind" of show, for me, and I always keep it in mind when I watch a show and think I'm writing it off too soon....

"Remember the X-Files....just remember the X-Files."

And I do :)

Honorable Mentions: Xena, Warrior Princess 

Tune in tomorrow and say the "secret woid" for $100.00 in cash....

Sunday, April 27, 2014

W is for : The Wild, Wild, West!!!

(Due to some time constraints, yesterday, I pushed my "off day" forward taking Saturday as my day of rest instead of today.)

Little did the world know, but back in the 1880s, they faced all manner of odd and, sometimes, supernatural threat. The reason they never knew was due to the efforts of two Secret Service agent.....James West and his partner, Artemis Gordon.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was the Wild, Wild, West!

It ran on CBS from 1965 to 1969, during the Cold War/James Bond heyday. In fact, creator Michael Garrison pitched it as "James Bond on horseback".

True to the pitch, the show had almost every spy genre convention there was. Cool gadgets, pretty women, maniacal villains, doomsday devices, and deathtraps. Almost every episode was guaranteed at least one thing from each of those categories.

The show starred Robert Conrad as James T. West, fearless man of action and wearer of too tight pants, and Ross Martin as Artemis Gordon, brilliant inventor and master of disguise. They traveled the
country in a souped up train, called The Wanderer, and did the work no other agents could get done.  The two were the top Secret Service agents of the time, reporting directly to President Ulysses S. Grant and in charge of not only his safety, but the safety of the free world.

Who were they protecting the world from? Why such evil masterminds as Dr. Miguelito Loveless (played by the amazing Michael Dunn) and his cohort Voltaire (Richard "Jaws" Keil), Count Manzeppi (Victor Buono), and Emma Valentine (Agnes Moorehead) to name just a few. The show was a stopping off point for many guest stars....from Sammy Davis Jr., to Alan (The Skipper) Hale Jr., to Richard Pryor, to Boris Karloff. During the last season, Ross Martin broke his leg and, as he healed, the producers brought in other "partners" for West, but they just never had the same sort of chemistry as the West/Gordon combo. Speaking of lack of chemistry, we won't even discuss the fiasco that was the Wild, Wild, West movie starring Wil Smith and Kevin Cline. We won't discuss it because it NEVER HAPPENED! Do you understand? There was NO SUCH THING!


This has always been a favorite show of mine and was "steampunk", even before there was such a thing. Many of the gadgets were a bit anachronistic, but still very cool and a lot of fun.

Growing up, I used to play Wild, Wild, West with a friend of mine where I was (of course) James West and she was Artemis Gordon. We made our own "spy kits" and would go to them before our "missions". I had the little 'derringer up the sleeve' as West did and she would use Silly Putty to make different noses and such, a la Artemis Gordon's disguises. It was a lot of fun and the show really fueled our imaginations.

Hey, don't was before computers and the internet :P

Anyway, this show has always been one that I can watch over and over again and often do since I got them on DVD. God Bless DVDs!!

Honorable Mentions: WKRP in Cincinnati, Wonder Woman (a super strong contender for top spot), The White Shadow.

Tune in tomorrow for....o.k, I won't even make you guess....there weren't too many shows starting with "X" anyway.....The X-Files.

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Voyagers!!

I've always been a sucker for time travel shows and one of the most fun and lighthearted was Voyagers! 

Running from only 1982 to 1983 on NBC, it starred Jon Eric Hexum (Phineas Bogg) and Meeno Peluce
(Jeffrey Jones) as a couple of time travelers who helped give history a "push where it was needed." Their mode of travel was a device that looked like an souped up pocket watch called an "Omni". The Omni also let them know if the time period they were in was as it should be (green) or messed up (red).

Bogg was a member of a society of time travelers, called Voyagers, who had met young Mr. Jones when he accidentally arrived at the Jones' apartment in 1982 New York. Through a series of outstanding circumstances (as always seems to happen in these type of shows), the two began traveling through history to help give it a nudge in the right direction.

The plots were pretty simple and I always found it interesting that the show was created by James D. Parriot who I had only known as being the brains behind the syndicated vampire series, Forever Knight. Quite a leap there, eh?

Hexum went from this show to a series about a couple of spies posing as models called Cover Up. It was on the set of Cover Up that Hexum was accidentally killed by a prop gun. I've always contended that Hexum could have gone on to be a huge star, had he lived longer.

While Voyagers! never had the slick special effects or star power that Quantum Leap did, it's still fun to go back and watch....even if it's just to, maybe, learn a small history lesson. At the end of each show,Meeno Peluce narrated over closing credits and encouraged viewers to check out the show's subject matter at their local library should they want to learn more.

I bought the box set a few years ago and the show, surprisingly, holds up pretty decently...especially for a show from the 'crazy 80s'.

Honorable Mentions: V: The Series, Vegas, Viper 

Tune in tomorrow where I talk about a couple of federal agents who rode around in their own train....

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for : Ultraman!!

Well, I figured this day would come....I just didn't think it would come this late in the game.

Today, I totally "phone it in" as far as posts go.

Andrew Leon was, indeed, correct in guessing that something 'ultra' was going on in Ultraman!!

Now, the funny thing is, I did a pretty detailed description of the old Ultraman show in a post from last year. In fact, it was during the "My Favorite Martian" bloghop that the Geek Twins hosted (which was a ton of fun, by the way.) and laid out a lot of what I'd just rehash here, anyway.

With that in mind, I'm just going to leave you with a link to an old blog entry and, I promise, it's totally legit! :)

So, if you want to see my thoughts on one of my very first exposures to Japanese t.v., check out my post on Ultraman, here. If you just want to skip it, I can't blame you :)

Honorable Mentions:  Underdog, U.F.O, The Untouchables.

Tune in tomorrow when I hang up the phone and put out a proper post about a couple of guys who could give Dr. Sam Beckett a run for his money.....

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for : The Twilight Zone!!

In my opinion, one of the greatest anthology series, of all time, was The Twilight Zone.

Created, hosted, and narrated by the chain smoking Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone ran on CBS from 1959 to 1964.

With a penchant for "twist endings", Twilight Zone was a show that could not only make you think, but could also make you question what you thought, as well. Serling was a script writer who was way ahead of his time in not only writing, but in social commentary. Many episodes were allegorical and reflective of the turbulent time in which they were made.

The actors who appeared on the show ran the gambit from silent movie icons like Buster Keaton, to great character actors such as Burgess Meredith and Andy Devine, to future film and television icons, such as William Shatner, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Robert Redford. One of my favorite episodes was Time Enough at Last.  Burgess Meredith played a reclusive bookworm who wanted nothing more than to be
alone and read his books. Being a bank teller, he would go down to the vault on his lunch hour and read....until one day he hears an explosion as he sits in the vault. He goes back upstairs to find the's the last man on earth due to a large, nuclear, proliferation.....and, strangely enough, that makes him very happy. Now, he'll have time to read his books with no interruptions. As he's cataloging all his new found books he drops his glasses and they break. The show ends with him kneeling in the middle of a pile of books, sobbing, with his broken glasses in hand.

Not only was The Twilight Zone a favorite show of mine, but it was very influential in my writing. There's nothing I love more than a "twist" ending or something that makes the reader think "Wow, didn't see that coming." I always (well, almost always) enjoy a show that makes me think and The Twilight Zone did just that without being too "preachy" or "cerebral".

The next time you see that signpost up ahead that tell you you're coming up to the Twilight yourself a favor and stop on just may learn something.

Honorable Mentions: Time Tunnel, Three's Company, T.J. Hooker

Tune in tomorrow for a visitor from another planet who I've talked about before.....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for : Smorgasbord of Shows!!

O.k, today's letter just had way too many shows that I used to love as a kid so, instead of highlighting just one, I decided to touch on multiple shows as to not go too long with this post.

So, here we go....

School House Rock: I would always flip over to ABC between shows to make sure I caught these. Of course, this was back in the days before DVD....even back before the days of VCRs. I could sing almost all of them by heart....still can, actually.

Sanford and Son: A t.v. classic starring Redd Foxx and Demond Wilson as a father and son who own a junkyard business. A lot of social commentary with a lot of laughs. Fred Sanford and his son, Lamont (the Big Dummy!) were constantly bickering about how they should run their businesses....usually, with comedic results.  The highlight of the show, for me, was when Aunt Esther (played by the great LaWanda Page) would visit. "You fish eyed fool!"

The Saint: A very young, pre-James Bond, Roger Moore plays Simon Templar. Gentleman thief, conman, detective, and helper of those in need. A British show, hard to find these days, but well worth the watch if you can.

Sapphire and Steel: Another Brit show, along the lines of the old Doctor Who for BBC production values. Starring Joanna Lumley and David McCallum as elemental time agents. Members of an agency tasked to keep the integrity of "time" intact. Each member is an element with special abilities. Lumley is Sapphire and McCallum is Steel.

The Six Million Dollar Man: Another show I could go on and on about. One of my absolute favorites, as a kid. Of course, you have to understand...this was back in a time when sci-fi was scarce on t.v....especially on prime time. Lee Majors stars as Col. Steve Austin who, after an accident, is brought back from the brink of death by a government agency who implants biological electronic (bionic) parts into his body to replace his destroyed limbs. Going to work for the O.S.I (Office of Scientific Intelligence), Austin and his boss/friend Oscar Goldman (Richard Anderson) help keep the world safe from all manner of threats.

Star Trek: Pick your flavor...the original series, the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or Enterprise....I, pretty much, enjoyed them all. The franchise endures even though some of the series don't always deliver one hundred percent. If it's Star Trek, it's a good bet I'll watch it.

I could go on for pages, but I think you get the idea. I used to watch a lot of t.v., as a kid, and much of it started with the letter "S" :D

Honorable Mentions: Sea Hunt, The Streets of San Francisco, Sha Na Na

Tune in tomorrow to enter a place of both things...and ideas......

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for : Remington Steele!!

Back in the mid 1980s, it seemed that private investigator, Laura Holt, had a problem. She was a more than capable investigator but, gosh darnit, she just couldn't seem to be taken seriously.....because, well, she was a woman.

"I know", she thought, "I'll create a fictitious boss....a fictitious male boss...and then I'll be taken more seriously."

And that's exactly what she did. The snag came when her fictitious boss, Remington Steele (whom she named after a typewriter and football team) walked right into her life.

That's the basic premise of Remington Steele, which ran on NBC from 1982 to 1987, and starred Stephanie Zimbalist (the daughter of veteran actor Ephram Zimbalist Jr.) as Laura Holt and Pierce Brosnan as Remington Steele.

Steele, who's real name is never given, was nothing but a conman and thief with an encyclopedic knowledge of classic movies and could always seem to find a correlation between the current case they were working and the plot of an old movie. When he's mistaken for Ms. Holt's fictitious boss, he takes the ball and runs with it, seeing the opportunity to make some money. Seeing that the fake "Mr. Steele" is, actually, good for business Holt decides to keep him around with the usual romantic comedy/drama/police procedure type happenings ensuing.

One of the best parts of the show, for me, was Doris Roberts as Holt's crass secretary, Mildred Krebs. Many only know her as Ray Ramono's mom on Everybody Loves Raymond, but to me she'll always be "Ms. Krebs"

Just as with Tom Selleck losing out on the role of Indiana Jones because of shooting conflicts, the same thing happened to Pierce Brosnan. He lost out on the opportunity to play James Bond, inheriting the role from Roger Moore, due to scheduling/contractual conflicts with Remington Steele.

That, in my opinion, was the James Bond franchise's loss.

Remington Steele had something for everyone. Action, romance, comedy, drama, and a cast that exuded great chemistry. For me, it'll always be a classic.

Honorable Mentions: Real People, The Rifleman, The Rockford Files

Tune in tomorrow for a show that.....begins with the letter "S" :P ('s totally up in the air!)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for : Quantum Leap!!

"Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the quantum leap accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home."

In going through the alphabet to see if this theme could support the A to Z Challenge, my pick for "Q" was a no-brainer. Quantum Leap has always been one of my favorite shows for many reasons....I'm a sucker for time-travel stories, I'm a huge sci-fi nerd as well as I like "period" type shows/stories. Throw in the fact that they took the time travel theme to a whole new level and did something that hadn't really been done before, and I was hooked from the get go.

I've always considered this the "little show that could". At first, I think, it had a tough time finding it's target audience and, to be honest, I'm not sure if it ever, truly, did, but it found enough of an audience to keep it alive and kicking for five awesome seasons. I mean, it had quite a few obstacles to overcome, the least of which was the confusion of just how, exactly, Dr. Sam Beckett bounced around time.

Dr. Sam Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) was the head of a government funded time travel experiment in the New Mexico desert. Here he had brought together the best minds on the planet as well as built a ego laden supercomputer named "Ziggy". Ziggy was fed every scrap of knowledge that there was and knew she (it thought of itself as a 'she' as well as having a female voice interface) was the smartest thing on the planet. She helped Dr. Beckett and his team create Project: Quantum Leap. When the government threatens to cut the funding, due to lack of tangible results, Beckett decides to try a test run....on himself. Now, the intro states that he "vanished", but.....not really. Basically, what Beckett did when he traveled through time (or "leaped", as they called it) was switch places with someone else....usually the person he was "sent" to help. He kept his own body, but some sort of aura kept him looking like the original person. Dr. Beckett was lost in the time stream until Ziggy was able to get a lock on his unique brain patterns and send help.

The "help" was in the form of a hologram that only Sam could see and hear.....a hologram of his friend and government contact, Admiral Al Calivecchi (played by Dean Stockwell). Did you ever notice that almost every show Donald P. Bellisario produces always has some sort of Naval character in it? Anyway, Al was a womanizer who had lived quite an interesting life before joining the Navy and raising up the ranks. An orphan who ran away to the circus, he had been married four or five times and had a wealth of life experience to help Dr. Beckett along his way. Al informed Dr. Beckett that Ziggy was working on a way to get him back home, which was 1990-something, if I remember correctly. Anyway, until they could get him back, he was to help those who had stumbled in history and help them "put right what had gone wrong".

The main problem, though, was that Sam had what they termed a "swiss cheese" memory due to the time leap. He could remember some things, but not others. As the show went on, his memories filled in and he remembered he was a child prodigy, held six doctorates, could speak six languages and knew four dead ones, and a martial arts expert. Oh yes....and that he had a wife waiting for him back in the future.

When Sam looked into the mirror, after a leap, he'd see the face of the person he had leaped into. Most of the times it was a man but, sometimes, it was a woman and, once, a monkey. Even though Sam could see Al, the holographic chamber where Al stood was in the Project facility and the person who Beckett had switched places with was kept there, in the "Waiting Room". The white walls and futuristic look of the room had many of the switched people thinking they had been abducted by aliens after they got back to their rightful bodies.  I think this was where a lot of the viewers got confused and put off many who weren't  true sci-fi fans.

When he's informed that even Ziggy can't figure out a way to get him back and he's still leaping around, Sam becomes convinced that God is steering him to who needs help and that theme continues all the way to the end of the series.

I could go on for pages about the ins and outs of this show and the themes/issues it addressed, but I'll spare you that and just say if this one of those shows you've never seen before, give it a look....I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Honorable Mentions: The Quest, Quincy, Q.E.D

Tune in Monday for the tale of a made up p.i. named after a typewriter....

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for : The Prisoner!!

Of all the British television shows I've every watched, I don't think any have ever made me think more than The Prisoner.

The series, created by star Patrick McGoohan, ran for seventeen episodes from 1967 to 1968 in the U.K. The allegorical show was always meant to be only seventeen episodes long and wound up being one of the biggest cult hits in Brit t.v. history.

It's hard to sum up this show in just a few sentences, but here goes....

A secret agent (we're never, actually, told his name), played by Patrick McGoohan, decides he's had enough of the espionage business and decides to quit. The only thing is, he's way too valuable and knows too much to just let loose into the world. His superiors want to know exactly why he's leaving and what he knows. Just in case it might come back to haunt them in the future. To that end, he's abducted and taken to a place you can't find on any map called, The Village.

In The Village, no one has a name and everyone is a number.

He is Number Six.

The Village is run by Number Two, who takes his orders guessed it....Number One. The Number Twos (they were, usually, replaced each episode for failing to break Number Six) and their cohorts spend the seventeen episode run of the series trying to trick, cajole, bribe, and threaten Number Six into revealing his reasons for leaving the spy game.  Meanwhile, Number Six spends the series trying to escape and/or topple The Village and return home.

Besides the usual "foot soldiers with guns" method of keeping people from vacating the coastal Village,
Number Two also employs something called "Rover". A huge, weather balloon looking, thing that chases attempted escapees down and engulfs them before returning them to The Village. Originally, Rover was supposed to be a mechanical, vehicle, type of device, but budget constraints forced the production crew to improvise so an old weather balloon was used in place of the high tech.

The show touched on all sorts of topics, though "authority versus individualism" seemed to be the overall theme.

I first discovered this how in a book talking about the all time great science fiction shows. Having never heard of it, at the time, I found it at the local Blockbuster (yes, it was that long ago) and, after renting the first, went back and got all seventeen.

I don't think I've yet to see a series as thought provoking as The Prisoner and, if you're a fan of sci-fi, you owe it to yourself to sit down and watch this series.

As they say in The Village......"Be Seeing You."

Honorable Mentions: Police Woman, Peter Gunn, Petticoat Junction

Tune in tomorrow to see how someone can look in the mirror and see a reflection that's not their own....

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for : The Odd Couple!!

What happens when you pair an OCD, 'neat freak', photographer with a sloppy, cigar smoking, sports writer?

You have The Odd Couple, of course.

Based off of the play by Neil Simon, The Odd Couple introduces us to Felix Unger (played by Tony Randall) and his friend Oscar Madison (played by Jack Klugman) and asks the question...."Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"

The answer, I guess, was.....maybe?

The Odd Couple ran on ABC from from 1970 to 1975. Strangely enough, it was cancelled after every season, but then picked up again after the high summer re-run numbers.

If you liked to laugh, what wasn't to love? You had neat freak Felix, who like things orderly and clean and you had Oscar Madison who just didn't care. Oscar's room looked like a tornado had tore through it and smelled like cigar smoke. Felix, on the other hand, had a room that looked like it had just been photographed for Better Homes and Gardens.

A couple of notable reoccurring characters were "Murray the Cop", played by a pre-Happy Days Al Molinaro and Myrna Turner, Oscar's secretary, played by a young, pre Laverne and Shirley, Penny Marshall (sister of producer Garry Marshall)

This show always made me laugh and was one of the first to make me realize just what a "sitcom" was supposed to be. I'd always get perturbed about the crazy situations that came up..."But Mom, why doesn't Felix just tell Oscar to clean out his own ashtrays instead of doing it behind his back?"

"That just wouldn't be funny, dear."


It took a while for me to develop my sense of humor....some might say it's still yet to fully develop.

Honorable Mentions: The Outer Limits, Once Upon a Time, On The Rocks

Tune in tomorrow to find out why I am not a number....

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for : The New Zoo Revue!!

When I was young, there was a certain block of shows I'd watch every morning. In that block were such famous classics like Sesame Street, Romper Room, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, and Captain Kangaroo. Another staple of my morning shows was one that might not have been as famous, but was just as adored....The New Zoo Revue.

The New Zoo Revue was a syndicated, half hour, children's show that ran from 1972 to 1977 and featured creator "Doug" (Doug Momary) and his "helper" "Emmy Jo" (Emily Peden). The rest of the main cast consisted of three anthropomorphic animals who helped Doug and Emmy Jo demonstrate different life lessons.

There was Henrietta...a demure, southern belle type, hippo who loved to cook and wore a tutu, Charlie....a wise, inventor, owl who was very uptight and yelled a lot, and Freddie....a fun loving, younger, frog who wasn't very bright.

The set was like a little town where each person had their own home. Doug and Emmy Jo lived in separate houses (even though the two were, actually, married in real life), Henrietta also lived in a traditional house. Freddy lived in a grotto under the pond, though I don't think I ever remember them showing where the entrance was and Charlie lived in a big tree house that was accessed by an elevator. I remember thinking how cool that elevator was, when I was a kid, and wanting a tree house just like that.

A very cool casting bit of trivia was that the recurring character of Mr. Dingle, the elderly mailman, was played by a young (at the time) Chuck Woolery.

Not a great pic, but trust's him!

I mainly remember a lot of singing and dancing and Charlie the Owl chastising Freddie the Frog all the time. I also wanted a cool turtleneck sweater with a big "M" on it, too.

Ah, back in the carefree days of youth.

Honorable Mentions: Newhart, Nancy Drew Mysteries, Night Gallery

Tune in tomorrow for a pair of strange fellows........

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for : Magnum P.I.!!!

(You have spoken and you told me....Magnum P.I.!)

Some shows you watch and think...."Yeah, I really like that one."...and, as the years go on, you kind of forget about that show until something or someone reminds you. Well, Magnum P.I. isn't one of those shows.

It's timeless.

It's unforgettable.

More was just an all around great series.

Starring Tom Selleck, in the lead role of Thomas Magnum, Magnum P.I. ran on CBS from 1980 to 1988
and became a television phenomenon. Who can forget Selleck's mustachio'ed grin....that red Ferrari...those Hawaiian shirts...."Higgy Baby"?

It seemed that Thomas Magnum lived a dream life. He got to live on a huge, private,estate acting as a 'security consultant' for reclusive author Robin Masters (who is never seen, but voiced by Orson Welles). Living at "The Robin's Nest" has other perks such as the wine cellar, the tennis court, and of course, the Ferrari. He also did "P.I." er, I mean, "private investigator" (never say "p.i.") work on the side. The only thing that made Magnum's life in paradise not so peachy was the estate's majordomo (in other words, the 'guy who runs the joint')....Jonathan Quail Higgins (played by John Hillerman) or, as T.C. would call him, "Higgy Baby".

Higgins, for the majority of the series, was a constant thorn in Magnum's side and, with his "lads...twin Doberman Pincers, Zeus and Apollo, did their level best to make sure Magnum didn't get too comfortable with all the amenities. As the series went on, they two became pretty good friends even though Magnum often suspected that Higgins was, in reality, Robin Masters himself.

Magnum palled around the islands with his buddies Rick (who never used his birth name of Orville) Wright and Theodore "T.C." Calvin. Rick, originally, owned a Casablanca style bar, but was later changed to the King Kamehameha Club, a country club for the rich where Higgins sat on the board of directors. T.C. had a helicopter business, "Island Hoppers" (the chopper featured in the opening credits) and spent more time ferrying Thomas around then actual, paying, customers.

Magnum was a veteran (along with Rick and T.C.) of the Viet Nam war as well as an ex Naval Intelligence officer, where he had some useful contacts to utilize when needed. Many episodes revolved around the plight of Viet Nam vets as well as the trials and tribulations of those who serve our country.

While the show was hugely successful, it was a double edged sword for Tom Selleck. The shooting scheduled conflicted with his chance at grabbing the role of Indiana Jones and he lost it to Harrison Ford. To be honest, though, I'm not sure I could ever picture Selleck in that particular role, though we get a glimpse of Selleck as "Indy" in the episode "Legend of the Lost Ark".  The show was, in essence, a replacement for another Hawaii based cop show, Hawaii Five O, and inherited most of their shooting equipment as well as production team. Hawaii Five O is even mentioned in an episode as Magnum makes reference to "McGarret". Magnum P.I. did crossovers with other CBS shows such as Murder She Wrote and Simon and Simon.

For a show to run eight years and not, really, "jump the shark" (at least for me) is a testament of not only great writing, but great acting and true chemistry between the cast.

It's a show, like I said, that I'll never forget.

Honorable Mentions: M.A.N.T.I.S, Manimal, MacGuyver, M.A.S.H

Tune in tomorrow for a show that was a real zoo...literally.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for : The Love Boat!!

(First off, let me start by saying how sorry I am that I haven't had the time to get around to visit or respond to the comments here. Know that I truly appreciate each and every one and I'll be around soon...I promise! Now, on with the show..... )

It was a very familiar tune on Saturday nights. For those of us who actually watched t.v. on Saturday nights, that is.

The Love Boat was an Aaron Spelling production that ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986. It starred Gavin MacLeod (as Captain Merril Stubing), Bernie Kopell (as Doctor Adam Bricker), Fred Grandy (as Yeoman Purser Burl "Gopher" Smith), Ted Lange (as Bartender Isaac Washington), and Lauren Tewes (as Cruise Director Julie McCoy) and the plots (usually there were three stories per show) revolved around different guest stars and their character's romantic escapades.

And, speaking of guest stars, in the nine years this show was on the air, I think almost every actor who ever graced a screen, large or small, made a guest appearance. Everyone from Milton Berle to Hulk Hogan graced the Pacific Princess and 'climbed aboard for a new romance'.

As with most things, though, the show began to go downhill (in my opinion) with the introduction of Capt. Stubing's daughter, Vicki (played by Jill Whelan). Also, near the end of the series, a replacement was brought in for Laruen Tewes' Julie (your Cruise Director) McCoy in the person of Patricia Klous, playing Juile's sister, Judy. It's always been my experience that when a show starts mixing up the cast, adding here, dropping there, it's a sure sign that things are on a downswing.

Now, when Ted McGinley shows know you're pun intended. It wasn't soon after Ashley (seriously?) "Ace" Covington Evans, the ship's photographer and resident pretty boy appeared, did the Pacific Princess dock for the last time.

It was a fun show, while it lasted and one of the best things about it was seeing old stars you hadn't seen in, literally, decades and watching them mixing and mingling with Hollywood's next generation. Sure the stories were a bit hackneyed and formulaic, even doing "crossover" segments with other shows such as Charlie's Angels and Fantasy Island , but they were still a lot of fun and more imaginative than almost any sort of "reality" show you'll find littering the airwaves today.

Honorable Mentions: Laverne and Shirley, The Lone Ranger, Lost in Space.

Tune in tomorrow for......well, I'm not quite sure, actually. To be honest, I only had up to today's prepped (show pick, pictures, etc.) so tomorrow is up in the air. I have four contenders for "M" and, since that'll put us midway into this crazy blog-a-thon, I'm going to make awesome the heavy lifting. Don't worry, it's not too heavy of lifting, but I'd like you to cast your vote for one of the following:

  • Magnum P.I
  • M.A.N.T.I.S
  • Manimal
  • MacGuyver

If there's a tie (or I don't get any comments...which is entirely possible :) ) I'll randomly draw one from a hat. 

No, I swear I will!

Until then.....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for : Kolchak, The Night Stalker!!

After The Twilight Zone and before The X-Files, there was a little show about an investigative reporter who stumbled upon all sorts of stories that just couldn't be explained.

It was called Kolchak: The Night Stalker and it was one of the few shows, that scared the bejeebus out of me, that I would watch regularly.

The plot revolved around Carl Kolchak (played by Darrin McGavin), a reporter for the Independent News Service (INS) and how he would manage, each week, to find strange and "unexplainable" cases to report....much to the gastric distress of his editor, Tony Vincenzo. (played by character actor Simon Oakland)

The show started out as books in the early 70s, then made for t.v. movies before being turned into an ongoing series.

Carl Kolchak was on of those "pain in the @$$" reporters....too tenacious for his own good, but never backing down from a good story. Always wearing a crumpled blue suit, a porkpie hat (which I think was even out of style for the early 70s) and never without his trusty tape recorder and camera, Kolchak tracked down everything from vampires, to mummies, to zombies, to evil spirits. Usually it was only Kolchak and, maybe, one other person who ever saw the true nature of the supernatural threat and, almost always, any hard evidence Kolchak collected was destroyed by some freak accident. It was as if the universe wanted him and only him to know what was going on.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker is said to be one of Chris Carter's strongest influences in coming up with The X-Files and that he wanted McGavin to reprise his role as Carl Kolchak on that show, as well. McGavin didn't want to come back as the intrepid INS reporter, but he did appear as retired FBI agent, Arthur Dales...described as the "father" of the X-Files division.

In 2005 ABC tried to reboot the series with Stuart Townsend and Gabrielle Union, but it never took off. I watched a few of those episodes and could see why.

Even though it only lasted about twenty episodes, Kolchak: The Night Stalker remains an influential show as well as an awesome "cult classic".

Honorable Mentions: Knight Rider, Kojak, and Kung Fu

Tune in Monday for love.....exciting and new......

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for : Jeopardy!!


Created by Merv Griffin (the same guy who created Wheel of Fortune), Jeopardy has been around since 1964 and is seen, as many, as one of the premier "quiz shows" of all times.  At least, I know it's one of my favorites.

It was, originally, aired in a daytime slot on NBC up until 1975. From there it went nightly and syndicated.

The original host was Art Fleming until 1984, then Alex Trebek took over.

For the uninitiated, Jeopardy is a "general knowledge" game where you must answer in the form of a question.

There are six categories that have six questions each. Each question is given a dollar amount. Should you answer the question correctly, you get the amount the question was worth added to your total...

"I'll take Superman for $200.00 please, Alex."

"This is the name Superman was born with."

"What is Clark Kent?"

"Oh, sorry....the answer we were looking for is "What is Kal-El".

If you get the question wrong, the amount is deducted from your score. It's very possible to wind up in the negatives if you aren't careful.

The first round is made up of fairly simple (relatively speaking) questions. Round two is a bit harder and the dollar values of the questions are doubled.

There's also a Daily Double, where you wager some or all of your total on one question. If you get it right, you get the amount you wagered added to your total. If not, it's taken away.

If nothing else, it's a show that not only makes you think, but also measures how quick you can think.

It's been parodied quite a bit. From Weird Al Yankovic's "I Lost On Jeopardy"

 to Saturday Night Live's "Celebrity Jeopardy" (where Darrell Hammond's Sean Connery steals the show).

To wrap it up, there's Final Jeopardy. There the contestants are given a category, they make a wager...some or all of their score so far....and the one who answers correctly and, then, has the most points...wins. It's pretty simple, really,.....IF you know the questions :)

Honorable Mentions: The Jeffersons, Josie and the Pussycats, Jason of Star Command

Tune in tomorrow for a reporter who always seemed to stumble onto all sorts of supernatural mischief.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for : I Spy!!

I Spy was a Cold War Era "spy" show starring Robert Culp (before his Greatest American Hero days) as secret agent Kelley Robinson and comedian Bill Cosby as his friend and partner, Alexander "Scotty" Scott. It ran on NBC from 1965 to 1968 and was one of my Grandma's absolute favorite show.

The premise of the show was fairly simple. Tennis pro Kelley Robinson and his "coach" Alexander Scott traveled the world playing tennis.....or so the cover went. In reality, they were spies (hence the show's title) keeping the world safe from nefarious countries and all their schemes. Scott was the "brains" and Robinson was the "muscle", though I can't quite remember them ever mentioning the agency they worked for besides just the Pentagon.

The show was a huge success due, much in part, to the craze of the genre back then and also the James Bond films. Of course a show like this wasn't without it's controversy. I Spy was the first show to feature an African American lead and it was actually banned in some areas of the South. Another part of it's success was the chemistry between Cosby and Culp and their hip banter during even the most dire of circumstances.

Even though the show was only on for three seasons, it racked up it's share of awards*

  • First-time actor Bill Cosby won three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Robert Culp was also nominated in the same category for all three seasons of I Spy.
  • Eartha Kitt, who played a drug-addicted cabaret singer in "The Loser" (written by Culp), was nominated in 1966 for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Drama.
  • In 1967 Culp was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in a Drama for his third-season script "Home to Judgment."
  • In addition to writing the theme music, Earle Hagen composed an original musical score for many episodes of the series, often flavored with the ethnic music of the Far East, Mexico or the Caribbean. Hagen received Emmy nominations for all three seasons of the show and won for the "Laya" episode in 1968.
  • I Spy won as "Best Dramatic Series" at the 1967 Golden Globe Awards for its 1966-1967 season.
(* source: Wikipedia)

As a fan of the "Cold War Era", a show like this was right up my alley. It had hip, suave, agents, beautiful girls and karate chops to the neck. What more could you ask for?? :)

Honorable Mentions: I Dream of Jeanie, In Living Color, It Takes A Thief

Tune in tomorrow where all your answers must be in the form of a question.....

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